Fall Yard Clean-Ups: Getting your Property Prepared & Ready for Winter
Despite our recent run of (finally!) “summer-like” temperatures and sunshine, the reality is that winter is just around the corner. This means that cold, snowy, blustery weather will be here before we know it. While the cooler winter weather can be a good excuse to wrap up warm and stay indoors, as a property owner or facility manager, you must be aware of how it can take a toll on your property’s condition and potentially create long term maintenance headaches.
There’s a lot to do to get ready! To make sure your home, building or properties are ready for winter, there are definitely some maintenance tasks that you should carry out, before the weather turns cold for good.
Have a Complete Fall Clean-Up Done
- Rake the leaves: Dead leaves can interfere with your lawn’s ability to prepare itself for winter. Removing or mulching removes the leaves while allowing the spread of nutrients.
- Fertilize: Your lawn’s final feeding is an important one. Fertilizing with a special autumn blend of nutrients helps grass roots stay strong and nourished throughout the winter.
- Get a jump-start on your spring planting: Planting bulbs before the ground freezes can be great for growth when spring returns. Daffodils, hyacinth, tulips, and other flowers are excellent candidates for fall planting.
- Clean out your gardens: If annuals are just left to die in your garden, you’re inviting trouble. Insects and other pests love to lay eggs in decayed plants. Don’t let them get a foothold; make sure your gardens are clean and clear.
- Trim your trees. Trees with old, worn, or weak branches should be trimmed, especially those that hang over top of roofs and outbuildings. Branches can easily break under the weight of snow, and they can cause major damage to anything in their path.
- Wrap with Burlap any shrubs or trees that require additional protection from the cold and damaging winds of winter in order to prevent die-off of expensive greenery
Clear out your gutters and check for Leaks
Autumn leaves can drop off surrounding trees and block your gutters and drains. This in turn increases the chance of flooding and damage to your roof. If the weather gets really cold, water trapped by leaves can freeze, causing potential leaks and other problems. Leaky downspouts or gutters can cause ice buildup on walkway areas with the freeze-thaw cycles we encounter each winter.
Check your heating system
Before it gets really cold is the time to look at your heating system and check it’s all in good working order. Not only will it work better, you’ll be able to catch any minor issues before they become bigger, more expensive ones. A well maintained heating system will also be more power efficient, helping you keep your winter electricity costs under control.
Does Your Property Have an Irrigation System?
Many residential and commercial properties have built-in irrigation systems. When the weather turns cold, it’s essential to have your sprinkler system properly drained and blown out with compressed air. This ensures that any trapped water will drain, reducing your chances of suffering a pipe burst.
It isn’t a good idea to perform irrigation system shut-downs and repairs without training. These tasks require advanced knowledge of system design and engineering, and even a small mistake can cause major damage. To avoid these risks, we recommend scheduling a proper shut-down with a proven service provider.
You don’t want to be dealing with problems when spring returns, so make sure your system is “winterized” and in good condition before the arrival of sub-zero temperatures.
Check seals on doors and windows
The seals around your doors and windows can deteriorate over time and if they aren’t in good condition, they may not work at keeping cold air out. Drafts and cold air coming in will increase your power costs, as your heating system will need to work harder to compensate.
Check your outdoor lighting
The longer winter nights mean that your house guests, employees and customers may well be entering and leaving your building in poor light or even darkness. Now is the time to check your lights work and replace or fix any bulbs that are broken.
Specific to Commercial Properties
Check your Parking Lots and Walkways
All lots and walkways should be thoroughly inspected for hazards and existing damage before the first snowfall. When having a look, check for potholes, cracks and uneven pavement. These should be repaired before winter arrives to help reduce the likelihood of a trip & fall accident or water-pooling that can freeze-up and result in a slip & fall incident.
Upgrade your Lights, Stripes and Signs
Darkness falls early during the winter, and making sure your business is well-lit improves safety as well as visibility to customers. Parking lot striping and pavement markings should be refreshed to help guide vehicles along safely, and all walkways should have ample lighting.
Don’t leave it too late to get your commercial property ready for winter. A bit of time spent now can save you a lot more time and money in the months ahead.
– Ken Jorgenson